Good TV

Good TV

A Story by Akroma

For the record, I just want to say that I didn't have a personal vendetta with the man.
I loved him as much as you did. Of course I have his blockbuster hits decorating my shelf. He was an amazing actor with a lot to offer the world of cinema. 

The point wasn't to pick someone nobody would cry over.  

Some stories you can tell more than once. These are the stories where the listeners lean in closer, elbow the person beside them, tell them to be quiet and pay close attention.

People love revisiting their favorite stories, spreading them around, sharing them with anyone who will listen.  

Everyone asked, "Why didn't Elizabeth Smart call out for help?"
For people who don't remember, she was the 14 year old girl kidnaped for 9 months by a religious extremist/insane man and his equally deranged wife.  
But what really got people was the fact that this girl was out in public during the duration of her abduction. She had an opportunity to run away, to alert help. People needed to know- why?
TV psychiatrists analyzed that question. She had Stockholm syndrome they all said. She sympathized with her attackers.

I wonder how much Elizabeth Smart saw of her media coverage, how many times she heard that question. I wonder how many times she heard her diagnosis.

Why didn't she do anything?

Imagine how it feels to have every one you will ever meet know the most intimate, most horrible details of your life. Even worse than that, to challenge them.
She could have escaped.
She should have escaped!

How did it feel to be Patty Ramsey, to look in the mirror and see a face every one thinks murdered her only daughter?

"That woman turned her young daughter into a baby prostitute by putting her in pageants" they all cried.

Parents have flaws. Each flaw, a shred of evidence. Each mistake, open for the critique of thousands of people.  Turned into a household name, but not for anything of the things you'd want to be remembered for.

Famous for suffering.
Your suffering made famous.

Does anyone ever think, maybe they're wrong? Maybe we shouldn't torture these people for our amusement. 

Courtney Love shot Kurt Cobain. Unless, of course, she didn't. Unless of course she is suffering way more than the kid who really liked Nirvana.

But let's not worry about that.

For all these people, after the media buzz has worn off, after the court trials or the funerals, after the talk shows and the books, these people somehow have to become something more than everybody's favorite story. Nobody can ever erase the past, so the one chance to escape, at least a little, is to do something so interesting that the past is not as significant. To claim back your life, so that all those uncontrollable events are no longer in control.

Most of the time, this is impossible. The public will always respond better to tragedy than to success.

Maybe my lack of self-esteem did me in. I couldn't count on any sort of legitament, hard-won success to reinvent my sensational history.

I could go into details about how I used to be a jazz dancer, a good one actually. I used to design clothes for my friends. People used to say, "You have such a pretty smile" or "You're so smart!"
Nobody has said that in seven years, despite the fact that I'm still smart, my smile is still pretty. All of my qualities, good and bad, are obsolete. I am the "Mississipi Manson Mother".

Just as a side note, alliterative names are quite catchy, and make for great media references. Another side note: to all those who think that if I left Mississippi I could somehow escape, well you're wrong.

Seven years ago, I got a call from the police station.

I never used to go to funerals. Even when my Mom died, I couldn't bring myself to attend the ceremony. I couldn't handle the sight of dead bodies. Well, it turns out I was running my own twisted version of a funeral home. My husband and son were found guilty as serial killers in the murders of twelve people. The victims' remains were found buried in the woods in our backyard, a few yards from where I kept my garden.  

How does a person explain that? I was just at the office. Really, really busy. Of course, every one thought I was guilty as well. No one is that oblivious. There is just no way that a person could unsuspectingly marry and raise killers. Didn't I catch a glimpse of anything? Bloody weapons? Torn clothes?

Yet, no evidence was found to support my assumed guilt. The verdict from the people, now that's an entirely different matter.

So, seven years ago, my amazing life, the one where I had a loving husband and son, the one where I did trivial things like take jazz classes and plant gardens, shattered into a million fraudulent pieces. Quite frankly, to say I lost my mind would be an understatement.

In a way, I wish they were dead so that there would never, ever, ever be any media coverage, so that maybe I could eventually hope to "get over it".
But my ex-husband and son are alive, rotting away in prison with their secrets I will never understand. Well, to say "alive" is a little dishonest. After that, nobody really lives.

Nobody includes me. If you ever sit down to watch TV and see your b&w graduation picture on the TV screen, the voice-over asking aloud "Can this woman truly be innocent?"  death seems like a vacation.

Seven years as the "Mississippi Manson Mother" was seven years too long. I know what your thinking; I should just kill myself, right? I thought about it, I considered it nearly ever day. But suicide would be the ultimate way to eternalize my namesake. If I died before I claimed myself a new title, everything I am would have been decided by everybody else. Guilty or innocent, it was out of my hands.   

I became a product. A representation of failed parenting at its worst. A person can only handle that for so long. Eventually, I broke. I finally had the strength to create my own destiny. The strength, the gun, the victim. No matter what the truth is, I'm a villain and for the past seven years I've been in prison. I felt condemned, only there was no lethal rejection waiting for me. There was no definite outcome, only questions. Questions layered upon questions layered upon questions layered upon questions.

Did she help do it? Is she evil? Did she know about it?
Did she, did she, did she?   

People love revisiting their favorite stories.
Remember, the point wasn't to pick someone no one would cry over.

Everyone knew his name. Everyone owned his movies. Everyone loved him. Because people love people who are famous.

Even murderers.

And even though they loved him, I knew they would love the story even more. And for once, it would be my story, told my way.

On the outdoor stage he stood, waving his arms at the crowd, soaking in their love and appreciation. Another actor-turned singer, but this one not half-bad.
"I love all of you guys! This one is for you!" he cheered himself on.
The crowd cheered him on.
I took aim.

The sound of the final gunshot would stay forever imprinted in their minds; the sound of fear, of loss, of mortality. But for me, that last "bang" meant freedom. And that's all that matters.

© 2010 Akroma

Author's Note

I'm looking for honest reviews. Anyone who takes the time and effort to review me will receive the same treatment in return.

Thank you!

My Review

Would you like to review this Story?
Login | Register


It's a shame this only has one review. Pretty well written. Seems like you lost steam in the last few paragraphs, save the final one.

Posted 11 Years Ago

If it were juvenile fiction, it would be perfect. Kind of light, in spite of a heavy topic, creates introspection into our own (humanity, that is) bad behavior, makes one think about how and when they've been a part of the problem and how they might correct that particular character flaw.

If it's an adult short story, it's got way too much fluff. Too uncomplicated, too cut-and-dried, black-and-white.

It's the kind of thing that I would read at the end of the day to lose myself in and forget about the problems of the day. (I don't watch TV.) This kind of stuff sells in paperback novel form, and probably would support you if you can find a publisher and you can expand it, but I have no real criteria as a reviewer. I'd also like to know what your intentions are for the story. Are you thinking of expanding into a short novel? Is it a magazine story? Is it just for your own pleasure? Who is your intended audience? It's an interesting idea and could be a good premise, depending on your goal.

Posted 13 Years Ago

Request Read Request
Add to Library My Library
Subscribe Subscribe


2 Reviews
Added on September 1, 2008
Last Updated on October 24, 2010



The Yellow Brick Road

Welcome aboard, Travelers! I go in and out of this reality, as does my writing. All feedback and critique is met with gratitude. more..

Escapism Escapism

A Poem by Akroma